Maurice Newman’s flat-earth thinking ignores climate change facts

Maurice Newman’s flat-earth thinking ignores climate change facts

Date
January 1, 2014 – 12:57PM
Category
Opinion

David Karoly

Professor David Karoly says the evidence of climate change is clear.Professor David Karoly says the evidence of climate change is clear. Photo: Craig Abraham

Maurice Newman is chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. He must have thought that December 31 was April Fool’s Day when he wrote an opinion piece in The Australian headed “Crowds go cold on climate cost”.

He once again revealed his opinions on climate change science when he wrote “the scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling” and “Australia, too, has become hostage to climate change madness”.

Tony Abbott's top business adviser Maurice Newman says climate change policies have ruined Australia's manufacturing sector.Tony Abbott’s top business adviser Maurice Newman says there is no evidence that climate change policies are needed. Photo: Rob Homer

His piece is a mix of common climate change myths, misinformation and ideology. While Mr Newman is welcome to his opinions, his writing reveals his sad misunderstanding of the facts about climate change.

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As Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

Fortunately, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and the Australian government say they accept the science of climate change, as do the Australian Labor Party and the Greens.

The key conclusions on climate change science from the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Science have been confirmed with even greater confidence by the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in September 2013.

They include:

  • There is no doubt that the climate system has warmed over the past 100 years and continues to warm.
  • It is beyond reasonable doubt that human influences, through burning fossil fuels, industrial activity and land clearing, have been the main cause of the observed global warming since the mid 20th century.
  • Continued emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.
  • Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Newman writes that “global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years”, but the global average surface temperature has warmed over the period 1997 to 2013, ocean heat content has increased significantly, and Arctic sea ice extent has declined, all showing clearly the continued warming of the climate system.

Australia has just set a new record in 2013 for the hottest calendar year temperature averaged across the whole country, unprecedented in more than a hundred years of instrumental observations and outside the range that can be explained by natural variability alone.

He also writes “when necessary the IPCC resorts to dishonesty and deceit”, but none of the many independent inquiries in the US and the UK into scientists involved in the IPCC have found any evidence to support these claims.

Unlike Mr Newman, leading international energy and economic organisations, such as the International Energy Agency and the World Bank, have accepted the science of climate change and released reports recently on the opportunities for business and industry around the world to transform to a new sustainable, low-carbon economy and away from the old fossil fuel driven economy.

Indeed, Mr Abbott, Mr Hunt and the Australian government have accepted that action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is needed because it is in Australia’s national interest as part of global action to minimise dangerous climate change.

I would not choose a person who believes that the Earth is flat to advise Australian shipping or airline businesses on how to plan routes to travel around the world. It is clearly not sensible to have a person who believes that climate change science is a delusion as leader of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

Mr Newman has contradicted the Prime Minister and argued against the government’s commitments to take action to fight climate change by reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

David Karoly is Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Climate Change Authority, which provides independent advice to the government on Australia’s emissions reduction targets, and other climate change initiatives.

34 comments so far

  • I wonder in 18 months to 2 years time how much trouble the Liberals are going to have in removing Abbott as leader. Will he go voluntarily as it becomes obvious that things have gone pear shaped, or will he hold on?

    Commenter
    russ
    Location
    melb
    Date and time
    January 01, 2014, 2:03PM
    • Are you suggesting that in 18 months climate change will have made that much difference?

      WOW!

      # Change your name to flannery and see if you can wrangle some dollars from the gullible…

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Finley
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:26PM
    • it is irrational to think that we can, as a planet, reduce demand for electricity or mobility when half the planet’s population is only going to increase its consumption of such things. at this time both of these largely depend on fossil fuels. governments mandating targets etc is not going to solve the problem of emissions. this can only be solved by a switch to zero or low emissions energy source that can provide base load power (iirc approx. 70% of our grid enegy use is base load) and/or we find a way to capture carbon emissions that does not consume (and thus require) large amounts of energy.
      one of those exists already – nuclear either powered by uranium or possibly thorium and the other is a research/scientific solution.
      we should also always remember that the earth has been both warmer and colder at various stages in our past – both during recent history (while humans have been around to observe and record) and over the much longer history of the planet.
      some of these hotter periods also seem to correlate with much greener periods too…

      Commenter
      interested observer
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:38PM
  • Why should this surprise anyone. Our PM described climate change as ‘crap’. His sycophants will follow that line.

    Commenter
    An ordinary Aussie
    Date and time
    January 01, 2014, 2:06PM
    • no surprises government

      Commenter
      nkelly
      Location
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:25PM
    • Other way around: Newman is one of Abbott’s masters, not one of his offsiders.

      Commenter
      Lewis Winders
      Location
      Tasmania
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:25PM
    • As well as the WB et al, agreeing climate change is real, so also do insurance companies. A quick check anyone can do on climate change reality, is the rising insurance premiums, especially in FNQ where we expect cyclone intensity to increase, and with this, property damage.

      Commenter
      John
      Location
      townsville
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:47PM
  • Perhaps you should have read the article before writing this. He didn’t deny climate change, he rightly pointed out that the overreaction to it has been ridiculous and hilarious.

    And he’s quite right. Although at least it’s given all the lefties a cause.

    Commenter
    Hacka
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    January 01, 2014, 2:08PM
    • Off to a positive start in the new year I see Hacka. Interesting that you think climate change is a leftie cause. Consider this: a University of Queensland-led study surveyed the abstracts of almost 12,000 scientific papers from 1991-2011 and claims to be the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind. Of those who a stated a position on the evidence for global warming, 97.1 per cent endorsed the view that humans are to blame. Just 1.9 per cent rejected the view. Add to this list the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Science – along with those known leftie institutions the World Bank and the International Energy Agency. Just saying…

      Commenter
      marcus
      Location
      west coast
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:30PM
    • How can you be certain that there’s been an “overreaction”, when you are not a scientist?

      Commenter
      DanB
      Date and time
      January 01, 2014, 2:35PM

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